Tourism recovery not expected anytime soon despite lockdown ease

Business trips only bookings in Barcelona, AirBnB apartments become short-let flats, and hotels allowed to open from Monday not expected to do it

Image of an empty beach in Torre del Sol campsite, in Mont-roig del Camp, Tarragona, on May 8, 2020 (by Roger Segura)
Image of an empty beach in Torre del Sol campsite, in Mont-roig del Camp, Tarragona, on May 8, 2020 (by Roger Segura) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 9, 2020 01:17 PM

Tourism is one of the sectors more badly damaged due to the covid-19 crisis – the government has repeatedly said it will be a priority when the reconstruction of the economy begins.

It accounts for 12% of Catalonia’s GDP – last year, 19.3 million international people visited the country, spending 21 billion euros, over one fifth of the Spanish overall.

After losing the business of Easter and probably summer, the sector is hopeful to begin recovering with the lockdown ease, but a significant return to business is not expected anytime soon.

No business despite move to Phase 1

Indeed, hotels and tourist apartments of three health regions in Catalonia will be able open from Monday, those in the western Pyrenees, the Tarragona area and the Ebre river region – yet, most of those asked by the Catalan News Agency are not thinking of opening on Monday. The reason: they believe it is not worth it.

Just a handful of campsites in the Tarragona and Ebre areas, such as La Torre del Sol (Mont-Roig del Camp) and El Templo del Sol (Vandellòs) will open. The campsite Trillas Platja (Tamarit) will also open to offer “an open-air space, nature and beach without crowds to break away.”

In the western Pyrenees, tourist establishments can also open from Monday, but there the local federation of hotels has no information of any intending to open on Monday. Some are planning to return to business in mid-June.

Girona, hopeful to welcome French tourists soon

In the rest of Catalonia, Phase 0 will continue, meaning hotel and tourism activity is still banned – so there is no business on the horizon for the Barcelona area and coast.

It is the same for central Catalonia – in the Igualada area, there is especially concern for a possible stigma that hampers even more the recovery for having been the region of the country’s biggest Covid-19 cluster.

In Girona, in northern Catalonia, they are already eyeing June, regardless of the potential phase changes beforehand. They are especially hopeful that France and Spain open their borders by then and that some French tourists go to the Girona region and Costa Brava.

Barcelona: recovery in 2022 or 2023

In Barcelona, hotels are only having booking from business trips, and they continue getting ready for when lockdown conditions ease.

The association of hotels (Gremi d’Hotelers) in the capital told the Catalan News Agency that they only expect international tourists to return from September or October, but that figures of 2018 and 2019 are only achieved in 2022 or 2023.

The sector, only in Barcelona, bills some 140 million euros every month.

This is also happening in tourist apartments, whose 90% of business comes from international tourists.

Now hundreds of AirBnB apartments are empty, and some owners are trying to transform them into short-let flats.